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Suffering and smiling: A study of the biblical Job.

The Igbo people believe that "Ejighi afufu anya isi" which states expressly that no sane person should boast with how much they are suffering or suffered. 

Something happened along the line in the lives and minds of present day Igbo. The watered-down Igbo also known as Christian-Igbo. The ones who are inspired by the suffering of Job. The ones who dismiss your struggles by reminding you of Job. 

Even when I pandered to the ideals of Christianity in times past, I never understood the Job character. He didn't deserve to be an experiment, he didn't deserve to lose the life he had because two old friends placed a bet to massage their egos at the expense of Job. As an adult I looked at any preacher who referred to that story as a toxic individual who needed a lot of therapy to experience normalcy again. 

One day in the Christian literature, sons of God came to present themselves before the lord and the devil pulled up too. This angel whose only crime was ambition came around too and god asked him in the 6th verse of the first chapter of Job "Whence comest thou?" 

The bible God who doubles as an all knowing persona asked for the devils itinerary and the devil not being witty enough told God that he was gallivanting the length and breadth of the earth. He didn't say it in such flamboyant grammar. He said "From going to and fro in the earth and from walking up and down in it" 

After the two most egocentric friends in history exchanged pleasantries they went back to their rivalry immediately when God said "Have you considered my servant Job, there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man that feareth god and eschews evil"

God seemed to have something to prove to Satan for no reason. Or perhaps personal aggrandizement could be a reason because he didn't engage other "sons of god" who came for the meeting. He only wanted one thing and that thing was to reiterate his superiority over the devil. 

All these while job was somewhere worshiping God or talking about his goodness without knowing that he was being set up by God. God even went the extra mile of removing his protection from his son because the devil told him that the protection was the reason for Job's faithfulness and loyalty. I don't know how it happened but the bible said that the protection left Job and devil had access to his body, family and wealth. 

From the 14th verse of Job chapter one, Job saw his life changing, he sat one place and in the space of minutes, many servants kept coming and going bearing negative news. The simultaneity of the tragedies were dizzying and I wonder why Job didn't ask questions to know where all that were coming from because he first lost his flock of sheep to the "Fire of God from heaven" according to the bible and he didn't ask why fire left heaven to the earth just to burn his sheep's. Every servant came with a degree of tragedy in the news they came with. The 18th and 19th verse was the chief tragedy because this diligent servant of God just lost his entire family to a gamble. 

When the servant told him that his kids were all gone, he stood up and shaved his hair and fell to the ground and worshiped. 

Job must have been manipulated into worshiping the same man that sent all these his way just to prove a point to the devil which he claims is under his feet. 

Satan tried harder with boils on his skin, with all manner of diseases that had no cure. And God stood from his balcony in the heavens watching his son wriggle in pain and the suffering of Job made him know that Job was a loyal servant who could take any sort of nonsense from his master. 

Jobs wife didn't understand her husband and his increasing threshold for suffering and pain. She, in her objectiveness demanded her husband to curse god and die. Job refused. He lacked objectiveness, he was a man turned into a vegetable and his wife saw her lover shrink and surrender his body to the afflictions two old friends sent his way. 

Job accused his wife of being foolish. Reading that passage again as a non-believer, i wondered how Job could still reach his masculine arrogance despite his undone condition. 

The first verse of the 3rd chapter was Job's epiphany. He didn't curse God but he cursed the day God created him and he did that poetically when he said "Let the day perish wherein I was born , and the night in which it was said, there is a man child conceived. Let that day be darkness, let not God regard it from Above, neither let the light shine upon it. Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it. Let a cloud dwell upon it, let the darkness of the day terrify it"

Imagine the mental damage a human being must have gone through to know all these about Job and still get inspired by the story of a man who suffered all manner of loss. 

As Achebe preached ethnocentrism, I preach a radicalized form because the evil of colonization and globalization has made it less fashionable for an igbo person to look at the world with the lenses of self. Ethnocentrism according to the dictionary is a tendency to look at the world primarily from the perspective of one's own traditional, deferred, or adoptive ethnic culture.

The radicalized form which is what I think may save the remains of our essence as Africans. I think that first, we have to shed the excess overweight of colonization and its antics before we begin to see in dribs and drabs the ridiculousness of some stories and testimonies. 

What was supposed to be taken with a pinch of salt became our blueprints, what was supposed to be an appetizer became the main course meal. And since then, we have been going through a type of constipation that can only be diagnosed when you are out of the religious bubble. 

Conclusively, there is nothing inspiring in the Job story. I have read the story while sober, while high, while sad, while happy and all these different vantage points didn't seem sensible. That my biological father will deny me fatherly protection and send his enemy to attack me, his son. Just to prove to his enemy that I am loyal to him and any suffering he directs my way. If Late Mr Mark Anthony Okenna Osuchukwu had done such to me while he was alive, I would have left his house and changed my name.